MS Excellence Rhone
As the slightly older sister ship to the equally beautiful MS Excellence Queen, the MS Excellence Rhone has sailed along the Rhone and Saone rivers in France since it was launched in 2006, and provides enriching and captivating river cruises to guests from all over the world. Operated by Travelmarvel – part of the APTouring group – the ship boasts premium facilities at every turn, accompanied by bright and airy public areas and spacious staterooms, which will all add to your comfort and relaxation throughout the voyage.
As an Australian line, Travelmarvel and APT river cruises tend to appeal, in the majority, to Australian passengers. However, growing numbers of New Zealanders and Brits are also finding the itineraries and vessels attractive. Most of the maximum 142 guests who choose to step aboard are English-speaking, and passionate about travel and all that it entails, particularly relishing the opportunities to appreciate the local cultures and traditions in the various ports along a river cruise.
Bellini’s Restaurant can be found on the Middle Deck, boasting warm décor and a polished wood finish. The panoramic windows allow guests to enjoy the sensational views as they dine, whether that’s from the breakfast and lunch buffets which are varied and flavoursome, or the fine dining five-course dinner served by waiters who provide top-notch hospitality.
All meals use fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and complimentary tea and coffee are available throughout the day. Lunch and dinner services also include complimentary local wines, beers and soft drinks. Bottled water is also available, free of charge.
It’s easy to spend the evenings with an after-dinner drink and the ever-changing views in the intimate, glassed-in Sky Lounge on the Sun Deck. However, if you’re looking for something a little more lively, Verdi’s Lounge can be found on the Upper Deck, and features a full-service bar as well as a dance floor and resident pianist.
Local acts and musicians are often invited onboard to perform and play some regional music which reflects their culture and customs, perfectly complementing the chosen itinerary. The Captain’s welcome reception and gala dinner are also social highlights that are always looked forward to.
Travelmarvel’s Insider Experiences ensure that guests can ‘live like a local’ with a range of fantastic activities that will help everyone to soak up the best of the history, culture and traditions that a region has to offer, from olive tasting and hunting for truffles with dogs to morning tea in Boucieu Le-Roi and playing a game of traditional French petanque. Excursions are optional, and independent exploration is available, so guests can pick and choose their own experiences and book onto the various excursions that they wish to join.
There is also plenty of free time onboard, when guests can simply relax and enjoy the ride. From kicking back on one of the sunloungers on the Sun Deck and soaking up the glorious views, to perusing the small library onboard and sinking into a good read, holidays onboard the MS Excellence Rhone are relaxed and stress-free.
There are 69 staterooms and two Owners Suites onboard the MS Excellence Rhone – most of which span the Upper and Middle Decks and benefit from French balconies, apart from those situated on the Lower Deck that feature picture windows instead. Staterooms and suites vary in size between the 129 sq. ft. window staterooms and 161 sq. ft. French balcony staterooms to the larger 172 sq. ft. French balcony suites and the 194 sq. ft. Owner’s Suite which features an outside balcony.
Amenities across the eight categories include a private bathroom with shower, comfortable beds with plush bedding, flatscreen TV, mini-bar, hairdryer, in-room safe and climate control.
The two popular tours that the MS Excellence Rhone offers are the eight day ‘Jewels of the Rhone’ tour and the 15 day ‘Splendours of the Rhine and Rhone’ tour; both of which offer alternative routes, and extended land stays, if preferred.
The ‘Jewels of the Rhone’ voyage begins in Lyon, and takes you through beautiful areas of France including Tournon, Viviers, Avignon and Les Baux de Provence, before disembarking in Arles.
The ‘Splendours of the Rhine and Rhone’ includes the use of the MS Excellence Queen for the latter half of the itinerary. The MS Excellence Rhone portion of the trip travels from Arles through to the gastronomic capital of France – Lyon. Highlights include the Camargue National Park, sightseeing in Arles, medieval Avignon, the ancient Roman Pont du Gard and Lyon.
Other itineraries, including the almost month-long river cruise and land stay combination ‘Best of France & European Gems River Cruise’ are also available.